Since September my main attention has been directed to the long awaited redesign of the website.  The new site has now been launched and I expect to spend some weeks improving its functionality.

As the launch was a bit later than expected I found myself with time on my hands, which I devoted to improving the treatment of the NHS on Wikpedia.  I am generally a fan of Wikipedia and I was quite surprised to see how bad the treatment of the NHS was.  There were no entries at all for many NHS Trusts, especially in mental health and community services.  There were plenty of articles about large hospitals but they were uncritical and centred around the buildings.  Most of the articles were very out of date.  I suppose people who contribute to Wikipedia consider themselves well-informed so it was salutary to see how the repeated reorganisations had left them behind.  I think it would be a good idea to encourage our members to join my Wikipedia improvement project if we want to encourage well informed debate about the NHS.

I think we were all quite enthused by the Brighton Conference.  Our fringe meeting was well attended and we made positive contributions to lots of other people’s fringe meetings.  Andy Burnham’s speech was inspiring.

The conference was closely followed by the demonstration outside the Tories conference in Manchester where we were well represented.  It was well organised and good natured so sadly didn’t get much publicity despite the large attendance.  50,000 is a big crowd in Manchester.

The next big political event will be the European Parliament election on 22nd May. There will also be elections in all 32 London boroughs, all 36 metropolitan boroughs, 76 second-tier district authorities, 20 unitary authorities and 5 mayoral posts  in England. Elections to the new councils in Northern Ireland will also be held on the same day.  Sadly there was no mention of these elections at the Party conference.  Health is potentially a big issue in both the European and Borough elections.  I’ve been raising our profile with MEPs.  I was invited to speak at the European Socialist event in Brighton and we organised a useful seminar on European Union Health Policy in Sheffield with Linda McAvan MEP and Christopher Birt.  I met Chris again at a briefing organised in Liverpool by Luciana Berger, the new Public Health lead.

I was asked to give a talk to a local history group in Manchester about the history of primary care in October, and we hosted a dinner for a visiting Japanese doctor.  I did a talk on the NHS to the USDAW headquarters Unite branch and one on Health Inequalities to Moss Side Labour Party.  I visited the Healthcare Efficiency Through Technology Expo in London, with a number of members.  Sadly Dr Dan Poulter MP did not show up, but there was a good talk from Tim Kelsey about empowering patients with information.  Andy Burnham  did an excellent talk to a large audience of Muslim clinicians at the British Muslim Heritage Centre which I was invited to.

I was invited by Hampstead Co-op Party to a walk about in Swiss Cottage.  They are planning to develop a health centre along the lines of the Peckham Centre and I was able to encourage them and  point them in the right direction – I hope.

I attended the CPHVA national conference in York and heard an inspiring address on public health from our member Lynne Friedli.

I gave a talk at Ashton Sixth Form College to healthcare students which was, as usual, very challenging.

The meeting of the Health Policy Commission was very poorly attended which meant that it was more informal than usual.  Discussion about  NHS policy  are waiting for the report from Sir John Oldham’s  Independent Commission on Whole Person Care which is expected in February.  This will give the Party some problems, as it is planned that each policy commission will produce a document to be circulated within the Labour Party in February. There will be a definitive meeting of the National Policy Forum in July which will present a report to conference next September as the basis of the manifesto.

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